How America feels to Trump supporters

Ezra Klein talks with anthropologist Arlie Hochschild, who visited Trump country in Louisiana, and talked with many of his supporters to learn how America looks to them.

They see themselves as patiently waiting in line for their due reward, only to find the line isn’t going anywhere. When they look ahead, they see immigrants and other special interest groups cutting ahead, and Barack Obama and the federal government waving the line-cutters in. Trump supporters feel like aliens in their own country.

Much of Trump’s support comes from divisions between social classes — something that Americans still pretend doesn’t exist here. Trump supporters are told they’re privileged because they’re white, but they don’t feel privileged. And they’re right, because they’re white but they’re lower class.

Not discussed much in this podcast: Trump’s supporters aren’t the white poor; they’re more affluent than their neighbors. That doesn’t necessarily contradict the narrative that Trump supporters come from the lower classes; economic class and social class aren’t the same thing (as anybody who watches Downton Abbey knows!).

This is a terrific podcast, with many thought-provoking points.

Arlie Hochschild on how America feels to Trump supporters – The Ezra Klein Show podcast:

I’ve been reading sociologist Arlie Hochschild’s writing for about a decade now. Her immersive projects have revolutionized how we understand labor, gender equity, and work-life balance. But her latest book, “Strangers In Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right,” is something new: she spent five years among tea party supporters in Louisiana, trying to bridge the deepest divide in American politics. It was, she says, an effort to scale the “empathy wall,” to create an understanding of how politics feels to people whose experiences felt alien to her. In this conversation, we discuss:-How she approaches immersive sociology-The kinds of questions she asks people in order to get them to open up about their political feelings-What it takes to “turn off your alarm system” when you encounter oppositional ideas-What she describes as the “deep story” that explains how conservative Americans, particularly older white men, feel increasingly looked down on-Why she feels empathy on the part of people who disagree is an important part of creating dialogue-Whether empathy and respect are in tension with each other-Why many white men don’t feel they’re part of a privileged group-What she thought of Clinton’s comments that half of Trump’s supporters are a “basket of deplorables”And much more. This is a time when listening and empathy are in shorter supply than ever, at least in American politics. It’s well worth listening to Hochschild’s advice on how to bring both back.

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